The Texas State Senate: John Carona Press Release
EMAIL UPDATEJune 27, 2011
On May 30th, the Legislature adjourned "Sine Die," or "without a day." Although this pronouncement usually signals the end of a Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, before it was made, the members of the Legislature had been told by Governor Perry that he would call a special session the very next day. Under the Texas Constitution, special sessions last for 30 days, the governor controls the agenda and may call an unlimited number of special sessions and they are numbered (this special session is the First Called Session).
Going into the Regular Session in January, Texas was faced with a current services budget that could not be funded with projected revenue. To better understand the budget situation, you can review my March Email Update. The only bill required to pass each session is the two-year state budget. The state budget, HB 1, was passed in the final days of the Regular Session and has been signed into law by Governor Perry. The Legislature crafted the 2012-13 budget using both program cuts and non-tax revenue measures. However, the non-tax revenue that funds part of the budget was found in another bill, SB 1811, along with other critical school finance legislation. Because of a filibuster in the Senate in the final hours of the Regular Session, SB 1811 failed to pass. With the budget contingent on the passage of items in SB 1811, the Governor called the Legislature immediately back into session. SB 1811 was re-filed as SB 1 in the First Called Session. SB 1 has now passed both the House and Senate and is being negotiated by an appointed Conference Committee.
Governor Perry has since decided to add several items to the agenda of the First Called Session, including legislation to address the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency, education issues, Congressional redistricting, sanctuary cities, healthcare reform, and intrusive pat downs by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Since the agenda has grown and several items are still pending, this update will focus on the items that did or did not pass during the Regular Session and my next update will focus on the budget and items considered during the First Called Session.
Business and Commerce
As Chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, I'm including extra emphasis on bills in this subject area.
- SB 17 (Carona) - Mortgage servicers are companies that work directly with borrowers on behalf of a lender, performing such tasks as mailing billing statements to borrowers, accepting borrowers' payments and handling escrow issues. SB 17 establishes a state registration requirement for mortgage servicing companies so that consumers have a place to go with complaints. The bill provides the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending authority to respond to consumer complaints and perform investigations where appropriate. Also, the bill creates an enforcement mechanism by allowing the agency to fine or de-register bad actors.
- HB 2592 and HB 2594 (Truitt) - Regulates the payday lending industry by establishing a number of disclosure requirements for payday and auto title lenders and requiring all such lenders in the state to be licensed by the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner. These bills represent initial steps to reign in an industry that has developed unchecked and is perceived as taking advantage of consumers.
- SB 1693 (Carona) - Allows electric utilities to petition the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for approval of a periodic rate adjustment of non-fuel rates, so that utilities can utilize a timely cost recovery mechanism for distribution costs. This legislation incorporates safeguards to protect against unintended consequences and abuse. Funding a modern and reliable electrical grid depends on a regulatory structure that both allows electric utilities to keep pace with evolving demands and technology and provide for timely cost recovery. By providing electric utilities with a timely cost recovery mechanism for distribution costs, SB 1693 serves our state's growing population by supporting economic development opportunities and employment growth as well as improving and replacing power lines and facilities to ensure continued safety and reliability.
- SB 1125 (Carona) - Changes the metrics for energy efficiency goals by phasing in a change from 30% of annual growth in demand to .4% of peak demand on a utility-by-utility basis in order to account for overall consumption of growth in energy demand.
- SB 981 (Carona) - Clarifies that the owner or customer of distributed renewable generation is not required to register with the PUC.
- HB 1064 (Pitts) - Implements a tiered pricing structure for a nonresidential, secondary service customer by requiring the PUC to adopt a rule requiring transmission and distribution utilities to waive the application of demand ratchets for a customer with a maximum load factor equal to or below a factor specified by PUC, which exempts such a customer from being billed on a ratcheted demand and instead allows the customer to be billed according to actual demand and utility usage.
- SB 980 (Carona) - Prohibits the PUC from ordering telecommunication carriers to provide new extended area service (EAS) or extended local calling area (ELC) routes. Existing EAS and ELC plans are not affected. It also eliminates filing requirements for certain customer contracts, and gives telecommunication providers the option to maintain or withdraw tariffs, price lists and customer service agreements if written notice is provided to the PUC and rates, terms, conditions are posted on the provider's website or provided in written notice to customers. SB 980 modernizes the telecommunication market in Texas to make sure regulations are keeping pace with the rapid development of communications technologies, such as smart phones and mobile broadband. The bill also seeks to keep rates low by relieving unnecessary and costly administrative burdens and creating a more competitive market.
- SB 1087 (Carona) - Allows early termination of franchise agreements and transfer to state-issued certificates of franchise agreements with those municipalities with populations of less than 215,000. Under current law, new market entrants such as telecommunications providers are allowed to offer video service in the Texas market under statewide certification. However, incumbent providers such as cable providers with over 40% of the market in a certain service territory were still required to provide service under municipal franchise agreements. SB 1087 helps equalize video provider treatment in Texas by allowing incumbent cable providers to terminate existing municipal franchise agreements and opt-in to statewide certifications like their competitors.
- SB 773 (Zaffirini) - Extends telecommunication discounts until 2016 and allows telecommunication communications providers to recover the cost of service plus 10%. The bill also clarifies that federally qualified health center service delivery sites are eligible to receive the discounts as well. SB 773 continues the state's telecommunications discount to libraries, schools, colleges, hospitals and telemedicine centers for digital services like voice, video and data. The continuation of the telecommunications discounts helps reduce pressure to cut programs, eliminate positions and pass on the cost to the public, cities or counties to cover the costs of these broadband services.
- SB 425 (Carona) - Certificates of insurance are documents intended to serve as proof that a certain type of insurance coverage has been obtained. They are limited in detail so as to be easy to interpret, while the insurance policy itself may be referenced to see the specific terms of coverage. Over time, these certificates have become increasingly detailed, limiting their benefit. SB 425 standardizes certificates of insurance, both to maintain their clarity and to protect insurance agents from having to interpret the complexities of certain coverages.
- SB 1170 (Carona) - Updates the barber and cosmetology code by creating dual licenses such as esthetician and manicurist license, and creates ways for those who hold a cosmetology license to take additional training and become licensed barbers, as well as barbers to obtain a cosmetology license.
- HB 3004 (Nash) - Adds defaulting cemeteries and funeral homes to the coverage of the prepaid funeral benefits guaranty fund to protect policyholders of prepaid funeral benefits contracts.
- HB 2490 (Solomons) - Because of very little regulation or inspection of second-hand precious metal businesses, law enforcement found that these businesses rely on the lack of regulation to purchase stolen material. This bill requires crafted precious metal dealers to register with the Consumer Credit Commissioner which will help law enforcement locate dealers within a municipality when tracking down stolen goods.
- SB 151 (Eltife) - Institutes clear standards of accountability for all debt management service providers.
- HB 8 (Darby) - Recently some developers have included a provision in property deeds that requires any seller of that property to pay a percentage of the sales price (referred to as a transfer fee) to a third party (usually the developer) any time that property is sold for the next 99 years. HB 8 restricts the use of such real estate transfer fees.
- HB 1390 (Deshotel) - When construction work is performed on a piece of property, the property owner is required to retain a percentage of the funds to be paid to the contractors until the project is completed. These funds are known as "retainage" and existing retainage laws are impractical and difficult to comply with due to overlapping notice and payment deadlines. HB 1390 adjusts these deadlines to make them more practical and efficient. Though the bill does not completely resolve many of the concerns surrounding this issue, it is a step in the right direction.
- SB 748 (Carona) - Deals with business organizations and, among other things, eliminates certain antiquated insurance requirements, allows for more flexibility in Limited Liability Company (LLC) agreements and clarifies the rights of a person who is assigned an interest in an LLC under certain circumstances. This bill is an important update to current law governing both large and small businesses in Texas.
- SB 552 (Carona) - Would have created an Energy Efficiency Coordination Council to facilitate coordination among state agencies that administer energy efficiency programs and ensure that all such programs are designed and implemented effectively. SB 552 failed to pass because some legislators believed it duplicated the efforts of the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO). However, neither SECO nor any other state agency is charged with such coordinating activities nor has any agency taken on the coordination of the state's various energy efficiency programs. In fact, most agencies only focus on their individual energy efficiency plans. SB 552 would have required agencies to coordinate these programs so that the state could realize greater energy savings and eliminate duplicative efforts.
- SB 1432 (Carona) - This bill was the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) Omnibus legislation to provide financial clarity and agency transparency and oversight. Although this bill failed during the Regular Session, it has been filed as HB 3 in the First Called Session. Though the majority of the bill contained non-controversial provisions that both sides agreed with, the issue of allowing punitive damages against TWIA for failing to settle claims in a timely manner and other such bad acts caused a lock down which prevented an agreement in conference committee.
- SB 319 (Carona) - Would have eliminated all allowable uses of the System Benefit Fund except customer education, administration and Health and Human Services Commission expenses for automatic enrollment. The Governor's office, as well as leading appropriators believed the bill was a cost to the state since it moved funds dedicated to the System Benefit Fund out of the State's Treasury to a private account. Under current practices, the funds collected for the System Benefit Fund have not been fully appropriated to that fund, but instead sit in the State's Treasury for the purpose of accumulating sufficient revenue to justify spending levels or budget certification. SB 319 would have placed these dedicated funds, which cannot be spent for any purposes other than those allowed under the System Benefit Fund, in a private account not subject to budget certification.
- SB 492 (Fraser) - Would have created a distributed and wholesale solar generation incentive program to encourage the use of solar energy devices. This bill and other distributed renewable solar legislation failed because an agreement could not be reached by stakeholders on pricing levels for surplus electricity and rebate amounts.
- SB 661 (Nichols) - Was the Public Utility Commission (PUC), Office of the Public Utility Counsel (OPUC) and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) Sunset bill. It would have given the PUC tools for better oversight and removed out-of-date regulatory hurdles, moved regulation of water utilities from TCEQ to PUC, enhanced PUC's oversight of ERCOT to address high risk in its operations and reduced the dominance of electric market stakeholders on the ERCOT Board. It also would have continued operation of the PUC and OPUC for an additional 12 years. Disagreements about the process of the bill in the House of Representatives led to unrest with leading House Members; consequently, the bill failed. SB 652, which served as a safety net bill ensuring respective state agencies would continue in the event their Sunset review bill did not pass to renew their existence, extended the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for another 2 years. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas will not go under review until the PUC does, which is 2013. The Office of Public Utility Counsel will not be reviewed again until 2023.
- SB 595 (Ellis) - Would have allowed liquor stores to sell on Sundays. The bill failed because of opposition from industry groups who did not feel that they would benefit from Sunday sales and felt it would be a burden on smaller stores.
- HB 1942 (Patrick) - This session, a number of bills were filed that dealt with school bullying or cyber-bullying. Of those bills, the Legislature passed HB1942, which provided a minimal framework for schools to adopt and implement a bullying policy, while still maximizing the amount of local control schools and school districts should have in developing these policies.
- HB 359 (Allen/Lucio) - Provides that a school may not use corporal punishment as a means of punishment if a student's parent or legal guardian has previously provided a signed statement prohibiting the use of this method of punishment.
- HB 3468 (Patrick) - Authorizes the state to study existing state assessments, developmental education programs, best practices and successful early assessment pilots around the state in order to identify deficiencies in college readiness and correct those deficiencies before high school graduation.
- HB 400 (Eissler) - This bill was one of the more controversial public education bills of the session. It would have allowed school districts flexibility to require employee furlough days and a reduction in pay as a means to save money. Although this bill failed in the Regular Session, it has been filed in the First Called Session as SB 8 and has passed both the Senate and House and is in Conference Committee at this time.
- SB 443 (Patrick) - This is another bill that would have provided flexibility to school districts with a goal of saving money. One of the most controversial provisions of this bill proposed a change to the student to teacher ratio in K-4 classes. The current requirement has a hard cap of 22 students per teacher; Senator Patrick's proposal would have instead changed the hard cap to an average of 21 students per teacher.
- SB 6 (Shapiro) - Would have established an instructional materials allotment to require the State Board of Education to set aside 50% of distribution from the Permanent School Fund and Available School Fund into a instructional materials fund. Although this bill failed during the Regular Session, it has been re-filed during the First Called Session as SB 6.
- SB 127 (Patrick) - Currently, Texas has a cap of 215 charter schools. SB 127 would have allowed six to ten new charter schools to open each year.
- SB 518 (Shapiro) - Would have required middle school teachers to demonstrate mastery of their area of teaching and required schools to identify at-risk or potentially at-risk students in order to provide the appropriate intervention.
- HB 3025 (Branch) - Facilitates the transfer of students from community college systems to four-year universities. This legislation attempts to decrease the time a student takes to complete a degree and simplifies the process for a student who wants to continue his or her education beyond a certificate or associate's degree.
- HB 9 (Branch) - Focuses on success-based funding in order to provide incentives for students to complete their degrees. Current funding formulas emphasize increasing enrollments rather than degree completion.
- SB 28 (Zaffirini) - Establishes priority criteria for the TEXAS grant program by prioritizing students who have met two of four academic criteria: completing the equivalent of 12 hours of college credit, completing high school with a B average, satisfaction of the Texas Success Initiative or successfully completing a mathematics course higher than Algebra II.
- HB 1000 (Branch) - Specifies how funds from the National Research University Fund are allocated among emerging research universities. Currently there are seven universities vying for a spot as the state's next national research university, which significantly factors into becoming the state's next tier-one university. These universities are considered "emerging research universities."
- SB 5 (Zaffirini) - Addresses issues of administration and business affairs in order to allow colleges and universities the best opportunity to operate more efficiently and effectively under the lower funding levels. Due to the current budget climate, institutions of higher education have fewer funds to meet certain goals and criteria previously set by the Legislature.
Health and Human Services
- SB 894 (Duncan) - Exempts rural counties with a population of less than 50,000 from the prohibition of the corporate practice of medicine. Current law restricts hospitals from directly employing physicians. This new legislation provides protections to ensure physicians maintain independent medical judgment.
- SB 263 (Carona) - Would close the loophole that allows doctors who have been placed on deferred adjudication for child molestation to still practice medicine.
- SB 7 and SB 8 (both by Nelson) - Were both filed in order to limit preventable complications and readmissions for the same medical issue. SB 7 would have lowered reimbursements for doctors who treat patients for the same issue or those that could have been prevented. SB 8 would have required public reporting of preventable complications or readmissions so patients have the opportunity to choose providers that might result in the best possible outcomes. These bills failed during the Regular Session, but are now included in SB 7 during the First Called Session.
- SB 23 (Nelson) - Was an effort to make the varied services related to health and human services more streamlined and cost efficient. This bill would have made a number of changes, such as reducing costs for medical equipment and laboratory work, evaluating the consolidation of state health plans for children's health, increasing preventive care and ensuring the state is maximizing its use of federal waivers and matching federal funds. This bill also failed during the Regular Session, but has been filed as SB 7 during the First Called Session.
- SB 355 (Ellis) - Would have prohibited smoking in public places. It has been refiled during the First Called Session as SB 28.
- SB 1854 (Deuell) - Would have required the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to provide a women's health program through Medicaid, which would have expanded access to preventive health and family planning services for women.
- SJR 4 (Hinojosa) – If approved by the voters on November 8, 2011, this constitutional amendment would establish a revolving $6 billion bond program administered by the Texas Water Development Board to pay for major water supply projects, including many identified in the state water plan.
- SB 181 (Shapiro) – Under current law, there is no consistent formula by which water usage for purposes of state water planning and conservation in Texas is measured. SB 181 addresses this problem by requiring the Texas Water Development Board in consultation with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Water Conservation Advisory Council to develop a standard formula for calculating and reporting municipal water usage in Texas.
- SB 329 (Watson) – This measure requires all manufacturers selling televisions in Texas to offer free, convenient recycling programs for obsolete televisions.
- SB 332 (Fraser) - This bill involves a property owner's vested interest in groundwater, clarifying that a landowner owns the groundwater beneath the surface of the landowner's land as real property.
- HB 3328 (Keffer) – This bill requires full public disclosure of chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing, a gas drilling practice referred to as fracking which involves the breaking up of dense rock to release the minerals in them.
- SCR 20 (Fraser) - Would have urged the US Congress to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating green house gases in Texas. Although SCR 20 made it out of committee in the Senate, it was never taken up for a vote among all members.
- HB 725 (Callegari) - Was an omnibus water bill, which dealt with the powers and authority of water districts. This bill passed the House and Senate and agreement was reached in Conference Committee. Unfortunately, while the Senate adopted the Conference Committee Report, the House did not.
- SB 481 (Harris) - Addresses the removal of a guardian, ensuring that the guardian is aware of their right to appeal for reinstatement and that a hearing on an application for reinstatement be held no later than the 60th day after removal.
- SB 1717 (Duncan) - Due to inconsistencies within the current judicial system among differing counties and courts, SB 1717 was a comprehensive piece of legislation that attempted to simplify the operation and administration of the judicial branch of state government.
Transportation & Homeland Security
- SB 315 (Carona) - Will clarify the responsibilities of each criminal justice agency relating to the Texas Gang Database and invite certain federal counterparts to join the Texas Violent Gang Task Force.
- SB 1420 (Hinojosa) - This is the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Sunset bill. It continues the agency until September 1, 2015; maintains the current, five-member, governor-appointed Transportation Commission and strengthens TxDOT's internal controls to improve accountability and transparency. SB 1420 also establishes an expedited environmental review process, authorizes TxDOT and Regional Mobility Authorities to use the design-build method for transportation projects and authorizes a limited number of comprehensive development agreements (CDAs).
- HB 12 (Solomons) - Would have prohibited cities or counties from ignoring federal or state laws regarding immigration. This legislation was declared an emergency item by the Governor, and although it did not pass the regular session, it has been included as an item the Legislature may consider in the First Called Session. It has been refiled in the First Called Session as SB 9. Having passed in the Senate, it is now in the House State Affairs Committee.
- SB 1254 (Carona) - This was one of several bills filed that would have made it a criminal offense for employers to knowingly and intentionally hire undocumented workers. SB 1254 would have promoted the use of the E-verify system by making it a defense to prosecution.
- HB 242 (Craddick) - While there were several bills filed this session which banned texting while operating a motor vehicle, those bills ultimately did not make it through the process. However, an amendment was added to HB 242 that would have effectively banned texting while driving. HB 242 also would have allowed retired peace officers to carry a concealed handgun. Although this measure passed both chambers, Governor Perry vetoed this bill on June 17.
- SB 9 (Williams) - This was an omnibus border security bill which would have addressed homeland security through a number of measures, such as mobile tracking devices, driver's license insurance checkpoints and increasing fines for drug offenses. This bill passed the Senate, but died in the House because of opposition to checkpoints.
- SB 288 (Lucio) - Would have authorized DPS to establish border checkpoints for south-bound vehicles to help prevent criminal offenses, such as the unlawful possession or transfer of firearms, controlled substances and currency. This bill passed the Senate, but died in the House because of opposition to checkpoints.
- HB 1937 (Simpson) – Would have amended the Penal Code as it relates to the prosecution and punishment for the offense of official oppression by the intrusive touching of persons seeking access to public buildings and transportation. Under the provisions of the bill, certain specified public servants would commit an offense of official oppression if while acting in that capacity, without probable cause to believe the other person committed an offense, they perform a search for granting access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation that intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly involves certain touching. This measure was designed to address invasive pat-downs by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at airports. It passed the House, but was not debated in the Senate during the Regular Session. It is now being considered during the First Called Session as SB 29 (Patrick)/ HB 41 (Simpson).
- HB 3746 (Frullo) - Targets crimes related to child pornography. I was pleased to be the Senate Sponsor of this legislation. Currently, Texas has three Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces, which work with the Office of the Attorney General. One in every three ICAC-related arrests results in the identification and rescue of a local child victim. HB 3746 will create a dedicated revenue stream to create full-time ICAC investigative positions and also provide administrative subpoena power through the Office of the Attorney General, rather than requiring a grand jury subpoena.
- SB 24 (Van de Putte) addresses the crime of human trafficking by extending the civil and criminal statute of limitations for human trafficking crimes and requiring those convicted of such crimes to register in the Sex Offender Registry. Another bill relating to human trafficking, HB 3000 (Thompson) creates a first degree felony offense for the continuous trafficking of persons or offenders who commit the offense of human trafficking two or more times within a 30-day period.
- SB 122 (Ellis) will allow DNA to be tested post-conviction if the biological evidence was not previously tested or it can be tested again if there are newer testing techniques that provide a reasonable likelihood the results will be positive.
- SB 653 (Whitmire) – As part of the Sunset process, abolishes the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) and the Texas Juvenile Probabation Commission and transfers their functions to a newly created state agency, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department with a new Sunset date of September 1, 2017. After several years of study, the Sunset Commission concluded that the time had come to consolidate the juvenile justice agencies into a single, fiscally responsible agency to serve youthful offenders. The goal of creating a single agency is to continue the success of initiatives to divert youth from TYC and serve them in their communities.
- SB 321 (Hegar/Birdwell) - Prohibits an employer from prohibiting an employee who lawfully possesses a firearm or ammunition from transporting or storing the firearm or ammunition in a locked, privately-owned motor vehicle in a parking area the employer provides for employees, with certain exceptions.
- SB 354 (Wentworth) – Would have allowed persons with a concealed handgun license to carry in certain locations on a college or university campus. Despite several attempts to attach this measure to other bills, the proposal ultimately failed.
- SB 1116 (Whitmire) - Under current law, students can be ticketed with a Class C misdemeanor for certain offenses at a primary or secondary school. SB 1116 would have referred these issues to juvenile court so they could later be expunged.
- SB 14 (Fraser) - The "Voter ID" bill, requires that voters in both primary and general elections show photo identification prior to casting their ballots. This was one of Governor Perry's emergency items.
- SB 18 (Estes) – Establishes additional eminent domain protections to ensure that there is enough scrutiny in cases where eminent domain is used and that landowners are fairly and justly compensated for their land. This legislation was also declared an emergency item by the Governor.
- SB 100 (Van de Putte) - Responding to the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, or the MOVE Act, this legislation facilitates the voting process for our military and overseas voters by requiring the Secretary of State to create a ballot tracking system, as well as requiring ballots to be transmitted within a specified period of time prior to a federal election.
- HB 15 (Miller) - The "Sonogram" bill, requires an abortion provider to offer a sonogram to women choosing to end a pregnancy. This was also one of Governor Perry's emergency items.
- HB 274 (Creighton) - The so-called "Loser Pays" bill, this legislation changes certain procedures within the civil justice system to make the system more accessible and affordable by allowing courts to dismiss meritless lawsuits before hearing evidence on the claims and award attorneys' fees to prevailing parties of those dismissed suits. HB 274 also directs the Texas Supreme Court to develop rules to expedite some lawsuits through the justice system.
- SB 139/HB 638 (Wentworth/ Branch) - This bill would have banned the option to vote straight-ticket. This measure failed to have enough support to pass out of either the House or Senate.
- HCR 50 (Creighton) - This resolution called for state sovereignty under the 10th amendment. This measure passed the House, but lacked enough support in the Senate for final passage.
- HJR 147 (Hamilton) - Filed by the Chair of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedure Committee, this was one of the only gambling bills of the session, which looked at expanding different aspects of gaming, such as video lottery terminals, casinos, racetracks and slot machines. HJR 147 never made it out of committee.
The Legislature is responsible for producing four of the state's required redistricting plans -- the plan for the Texas State Board of Education districts, the plan for the U.S. Congressional districts in Texas, the plan for the Texas House of Representatives and the plan for the Texas Senate. During the Regular Session, the Legislature fulfilled its responsibility regarding three of the four plans and passed plans for the State Board of Education (HB 600 by Solomons), the Texas Senate (SB 31 by Seliger) and the Texas House of Representatives (HB 150 by Solomons). No Congressional plan passed during the regular session, but the Legislature did pass a Congressional redistricting plan (SB 4 by Seliger) during the First Called Session. Assuming the plans are not vetoed by the Governor, they will become effective as the new district plans for the next election. Of course, any redistricting plan can be challenged in court, and in all likelihood some of these plans will be. However, the Legislature worked hard to ensure that the plans can withstand any potential legal challenge.
Of interest to us in District 16 are the changes to our district lines. As I have mentioned before, District 16's population grew by the least amount in the state. Therefore, to meet the equal population requirement, the population in District 16 had to increase by more than any other district in the state. Please review my January 2010 Email Update for more information on redistricting requirements. As a result, District 16 has been expanded in all directions. The District expanded south to include parts of Uptown, west to include parts of Irving and Coppell, north to include parts of Carrollton and Farmer's Branch, and east to include a greater portion of Garland. Unfortunately, to accommodate surrounding Senate districts, Richardson is no longer a part of District 16 nor is a portion of east Dallas near White Rock Lake and Mesquite. I have enjoyed tremendously representing all the constituents in these areas and will miss their participation and input concerning issues of importance in Senate District 16. However, they will be well represented by the Senators in their new Districts, and I look forward to learning more about the new areas of District 16.
To view the new Senate District Map, visit the Texas Redistricting Website, from "Applications and Tools" select "DistrictViewer." From "Select Plan" choose "Base Plans." Then select "Plan Type" and choose "Senate," then select PLANS148. Then use your mouse to zoom in on the map. If you have any questions about navigating DistrictViewer, please call my Dallas office at 214-378-5751.
Constitutional Amendments on the November 8, 2011 Ballot
Here are the joint resolutions that have resulted in 10 proposed Constitutional Amendments that will be on your ballot this November. The hyperlinks with take you to the "History" page of the resolution. If you click on the "Text" tab, you can view the bill text, fiscal notes, and analysis of the bill intent.
(Pickett) - Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area and to pledge for repayment of the bonds or notes increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county on property in the area.
(Orr) - Proposing a constitutional amendment to clarify references to the permanent school fund, to allow the General Land Office to distribute revenue derived from permanent school fund land or other properties to the available school fund, and to provide for an increase in the market value of the permanent school fund for the purpose of allowing increased distributions from the available school fund.
(Hinojosa) - Proposing a constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board.
(West) - Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision.
(Van de Putte) - Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran.
(Estes) - Proposing a constitutional amendment providing for the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water-stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.
(West) - Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund.
(Rodriquez) - Proposing a constitutional amendment relating to the provision of parks and recreational facilities by conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County.
(Van de Putte) - Proposing a constitutional amendment to change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain elected county or district officeholders if they become candidates for another office.
(West) - Proposing a constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the state to finance educational loans to students.
This issue of the Email Update was intended to highlight major legislation that passed or failed during the Regular Session of the 82nd Texas Legislature, but it is not all encompassing. If you are interested in a bill/issue not mentioned here, please ask.
Summer is here, be safe and stay cool.
State Senator - District 16
|P.O. Box 12068|
Austin, TX 78711
|8080 N. Central Expy.
Suite 1440, LB 44
Dallas, TX 75206
|5401 N. Central Expy.
Dallas, TX 75205